It was held, from July 22nd to 26th , the 39th National Encounter of Pedagogy (ENEPe), gathering around 600 students, militants of people’s movement and workers from the whole country at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), outskirts of Guarulhos. The meeting raised the defence of the university autonomy, academic freedom and students co-government. Besides deliberating a Struggle Plan, the students, under the National Executive of the Pedagogy Students (Ex Nepe), have also promoted a great activity for marking out and imposing their demands as part of the General Strike of National Resistance.
The event shows a long and important record of militant struggle in the students’ movement, since Pedagogy was the first course to break with the National Union of Students (UNE), in 2004, distinguishing thenceforth an honest and combative path. That is why in every student it was expressed the will and determination in mottoes like: A ExNEP is for fighting! Paralysis will not hold us!
At the end of the meeting a Struggle Plan was approved by the students’ movement and the responsibility to propel the General Strike for National Resistance for an indefinite period of time in Brasil was determined. Besides, the Plan stresses the need to struggle against any kind of intervention at the universities and any collection of taxes for the higher education. It calls attention to the urgency to reject the project “Future-se” and, above all, “to boost a great wave of strikes occupying, in the whole country, the Higher Education Institutions against all sort of ongoing attacks to University gratuity, democracy, autonomy and the privatization projects”.
The political trusts have also been approved from the 39th ENEPe, repudiating “all attacks” by Bolsonaro’s and the generals’ government that “try to apply obscurantist policies for the Higher Education Institutions”. They affect the basic principles of the university autonomy. The motions rendered solidarity to the victims of violence and oppression from the old State as, for instance, the Miravânia’s peasants who were displaced and “all those that fight for the sacred right to the land and live and work on it”.
Organization and engagement
Based on the principle of collectivism, all the people who were present have performed tasks for the perfect functioning of the event. The students have cleaned the campus, organized activities and the meals, everything in commissions. The Unifesp cleaning personnel, concerned with the work provided by hundreds of visitors, said they were happy and surprise since the cleaning commission understood their responsibility had a political character, and the bathrooms and common areas were organized and clean.
On the whole, representatives of 24 states were presents at the Meeting and some had groups from several regions of the state. From the daybreak onwards, on July 22nd , groups from the whole country were arriving full of enthusiasm, singing songs as the Flag of the Revolution, talking and starting to know each other. After breakfast, the first activity of the event happened, the greetings to the participating delegations, their statements to the Encounter and agitation. With poignant speeches on the importance of being present, at the country’s political moment, they shared with the other students the efforts and difficulties they had had to conquer their coming to the meeting.
All of them emphasised the practice of self-subsistence, how they had collected the travel amount by means of bazaars, sales of sweets and food besides the help of teachers and some other ways of fundraising. In almost all speeches the students exposed the persecution and sabotage they have suffered and they had to face to stand their ground in an independent line.
At every day of the event those present at the encounter, even getting up very early to attend the meetings which started around 8am, crowded the auditorium. And after a whole day with speeches and lectures there was still energy for cultural activities every night with the participation of the combative rap group, Ameaça Vermelha ( Red Threat), as well as a bumbo samba group, traditional from São Paulo. In one of the nights, for instance, the performance of a youth group from the east zone of São Paulo excited and pleased the audience tremendously.
In the first day of the encounter there was a discussion on “The June, 2013 journeys and the new cycle of class struggle in Brasil”. Igor Mendes, a political persecuted activist, a leader of the Poor Peasants League (LCP) and the professor of the University of São Paulo (USP) and philosopher, Vladimir Safatle, participated. Everybody was concentrated and attentive, cheering with their speeches that shook the auditorium full of students.
Igor Mendes’ address stressed the year’s journeys as a breaking point between the old democracy and the opportunist path, “those condemned to lose”, those who can only moan, and the others, those who embark on the path of the combative and revolutionary struggle for a New Democracy and are “condemned to triumph”.
The militant compared the present youth with “the radical republicans who have fought at the monarchy era and were called “crazy”, who have paid with their liberty and life for the struggle condemned to be victorious!” And added: “Nowadays, the monarchy does not deserve not even to be hated, we laugh at it for being a ridiculous system”.
Professor Safatle, who was attending a Congress in Germany, made a statement via internet, exposed the attack to the universities and human sciences courses by the government of the fascist Bolsonaro and right-wing generals: “ The University has lost its place and is no longer a significant problem”, refering to the years of the opportunism and paralysis management at the Brazilian universities which turned into “luxury ghettos”.
The LCP(Poor Peasant League) representative was welcomed with respect and enthusiasm, much applauded when stated that the 2013 people’s struggles defended land for the peasants, a quality education and an eficient public health system among some other trampled rights. The students masses chanted: “Land for those who work the land and Long live the Agrarian Revolution! Death to the landlords and Long live the peasant and worker power!” At the end of his speech he read the poem Men from the land, from Vinicius de Moraes’, written from a peasant’ perspective who declares his indignation against the landownership.
On the second event day, the theme was “Fight for democracy in the Brazilian public schools and students’ occupations”. The board was composed by the teachers Marcos Cesar, Unifesp; Maria Neide Silva Morais, Liberdade School and by a leadership of students’ occupations in São Paulo. The board discussed the legacy of the personalities who contributed for the public education development in Brasil. Professor Marcos Cesar cited democratic personalities like Anisio Teixeira and Darcy Ribeiro and their endeavour to take schools to the slums and countryside.
The great national wave of school occupations, 2015 and 2016, and the importance of using the occupation as a way to stop the attacks to the education in large scale presently, were celebrated at the end of the work. It was commented the high level of commitment and organization of the high school students in the occupations, the trying of their demobilization by opportunism and the huge resistance and courage of the students against the police repression which attacked them in the most violent and coward way possible. It was emphasised the important amount of knowledge on the organization and struggle with the school occupations carried out by the students that nowadays are the combative university students.
During the whole event it was crystal clear by the contents of the discussions, discipline and tireless participation of the students, that ExNEPe continues following in a correct way the revolutionary path. By breaking with paralysis and proposing to coordinate in a independent and combative way, the Plan of Struggles and political motions, consequent for the student movement, produced a real and true political leap, not only for the Pedagogy students but the courses on the whole.
Victorious political activity
On the fourth event day, the students transformed Pimentas – an outskirt district of Guarulhos where Unifesp is located – into a stage of a great demonstration. The students showed the combativity of the encounter and insatisfaction of all of them with the attacks to the workers, peasants, students and youth done relentlessly by the fascist Bolsonaro, tutoured by the High Command of the Armed Forces.
The students reunited at the Unifesp entrance and marched in the streets chanting watchwords, playing bumbos and drums and flying banneers. Among the movements there were: exNEPe, MEPR –Movimento Estudantil Popular Revolucionário (Revolutionary People’s Student Movement), Unidade Vermelha (Red Unity) – Liga da Juventude Revolucionária (UV-LJR) (Revolutionary Youth League), Alvorada do Povo (People’s Dawn), Movimento Fagulha (Spark Movement) and the Brigadas Populares (People’s Brigades). At the same day, the students held an assembly in which democratically was decided which would be the activity’s contents.
Right after, the group went to the streets, distributing leaflets and explaining to the workers’ masses the goal of the demonstration, on the struggle against the public teaching privatisation, against the “Social Welfare Reform” and for the General Strike of National Resistance. When arriving at a bus terminal, where a large number of workers was concentrated on their way back home, the students shouted: Workers, you have to right to rebel! You don’t have to pay for the crisis! If you pay, you should not, education is not a merchandise!
Cordoba’s Reform of 1918
The conquer of the students co-government 101 years later
In 1918, the University of Cordoba, Argentina, was transformed into an epicentre of an insurgency organized by the students that, revolted with the lack of democracy at the university, raised under the motto of the autonomy banner, academic freedom and students’ co-government. The Cordoba rebellion has changed for good not only the structune and parameters of the Latin-american universities, so far deepened in medieval remnants and clerical obscurantism, but has planted the seeds of the students’ movement and its way to become organized as well.
By then, the University if Cordoba was controlled by the Jesuits ( more than 3 centuries) who acted as tyrants in the administration of the university and suffocated the academic atmosphere with an anacronic conservativeness. Despite being the immediate cause, the closing of the University Hospital, there were several reasons for the rebellion: the Jesuits intervened in the contents taught and the methods that were used, preventing the science to advance and outdate; the professors and employees were nominated without any form of contests or certification exam by entities linked to the Clergy, preserving the old and decaying university, wallowed in servility, among other things. As the students Manifesto affirmed: “ That is why the science, before these mude and closed houses, either is silent or enters maimed and grotesque for the bureaucratic service”.
With a generalized students’ strike and the university occupation, the student movement demanded its participation at the administrative structure of the university, as a way to guarantee a co-government, academic freedom, a critical and free teaching; financial autonomy; university extensions for acting beyond the campus walls; social assistance for the students; and, overall, a more democratic and open university to the people. Right after, it was founded the University Federation of Argentina and, later, the first Argentinian Students’ Congress was held.
The reform happened afterwards, passing most of its agendas as a product of the combative rebellion of the students, a nearly inevitable result. Years later, in 1953, it was achieved the abolition of the entrance examination, releasing the entrance to the Higher Education, a consequence of the student revolt reverberations that continued to echoe. Examples for all the students with a democratic stance, the Cordoba’s students affirmed in a manifesto after passing the reforms: “Today we got up with less shame and more liberty; the pains we still have are the freedoms that are missing”.